Scottish Voices Songs of Praise


Scottish Voices

Sally Magnusson meets composer Paul Mealor and introduces hymns and songs from the boys of the National Youth Choirs of Scotland gathered in Dunblane Cathedral.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Scottish Voices. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

In Songs Of Praise, we always try and have a mix of young and old,

0:00:020:00:04

male and female. Today, we're breaking the rules.

0:00:040:00:08

We've the boys of the National Youth Choirs of Scotland to sing for us.

0:00:120:00:16

Plus, a royal wedding and Military Wives Choir composer Paul Mealor

0:00:160:00:20

reveals what inspires his music.

0:00:200:00:23

The National Youth Choirs of Scotland are made up of

0:00:320:00:34

girls and boys between the ages of ten and early 20s.

0:00:340:00:39

They meet in different places across Scotland for training

0:00:390:00:42

and rehearsals but they come together for performances

0:00:420:00:45

which are held all over Britain, Europe and America.

0:00:450:00:48

Winning international recognition is exciting.

0:00:500:00:54

Many of them have gone on to have careers in music.

0:00:540:00:57

And the boys are here in Dunblane Cathedral

0:00:570:01:00

which is pretty well in the middle of Scotland

0:01:000:01:02

and so a convenient gathering place.

0:01:020:01:04

We'll have some small choirs a bit later on

0:01:070:01:09

but we start with a full congregation of boys of all ages

0:01:090:01:13

singing with gusto that well-known hymn, Praise To The Lord.

0:01:130:01:18

CHOIR SINGS

0:03:000:03:03

Artistic director Christopher Bell was keen to showcase

0:03:030:03:08

the distinctive choral sound produced by young men in our hymns.

0:03:080:03:13

We were able to see the mixed voices

0:03:130:03:15

rehearsing for the Edinburgh Festival.

0:03:150:03:17

When I began to talk about this particular Songs Of Praise,

0:03:200:03:23

I did have a vision for filling Dunblane Cathedral with boys' voices.

0:03:230:03:28

# Hostias et preces, tibi... #

0:03:280:03:33

So either trebles or some changing voices

0:03:330:03:36

or some really quite settled baritones and basses

0:03:360:03:39

from the National Youth Choir itself.

0:03:390:03:41

# ..luadis offerimus

0:03:410:03:44

# Tu suscipe... #

0:03:440:03:47

Getting boys to sing is, traditionally, for choir directors,

0:03:470:03:50

the big challenge, the big task.

0:03:500:03:53

# Do-do-do-do-do. #

0:03:530:03:55

And two and go.

0:03:550:03:56

# Do-do-do-do-do. #

0:03:560:03:58

OK, go up A natural, F#, G#, A natural

0:03:580:04:02

Apparently, it's not cool to sing anyway in school but for boys,

0:04:020:04:08

getting boys to sing, they're not really interested.

0:04:080:04:10

Actually, they ARE quite interested

0:04:100:04:12

and they need to be motivated in a slightly different way.

0:04:120:04:15

# Hostias, et preces... #

0:04:150:04:21

There's a B. Here we go once again.

0:04:210:04:24

# Laudis offerimus... #

0:04:240:04:32

I was told many years ago that when boys and girls

0:04:320:04:34

rehearse together, the boys kind of get disenchanted

0:04:340:04:37

a little bit and the girls seem to be a bit better at it.

0:04:370:04:40

Boys like to sing about different things.

0:04:430:04:46

And they sing in quite an honest way in a very direct way.

0:04:460:04:49

# Hosanna in excelsis...#

0:04:490:04:55

They love starting in the junior core, that's the white shirts,

0:04:550:04:59

moving through the blue shirts, that's the National Boys Choir

0:04:590:05:02

but their eye is on the black shirts.

0:05:020:05:05

And those guys are the ones with changed voices because, psychologically,

0:05:050:05:09

there comes a point when a boy decides it's time to grow up.

0:05:090:05:13

A boy wants to be a man.

0:05:130:05:14

He wants to be like a father, he wants to be like an uncle,

0:05:140:05:16

he wants to be like an older brother.

0:05:160:05:18

One and go.

0:05:180:05:19

CHOIR SINGS BADLY

0:05:190:05:22

OK, I'll give you two seconds to look at that piece.

0:05:220:05:24

I shouldn't have to sing it all for you.

0:05:240:05:26

I can remember when my voice changed. It was a cataclysmic thing.

0:05:260:05:29

I'm standing in the Cathedral Choir, I'm singing a hymn,

0:05:290:05:32

we're rehearsing on Sunday morning before we were getting ready

0:05:320:05:34

to actually do the service.

0:05:340:05:36

And I started to sing and the voice just cracked.

0:05:360:05:40

And I remember the choirmaster turning to the head chorister

0:05:400:05:43

and saying, "I think Christopher's time with us is at an end."

0:05:430:05:47

And that's a very bewildering time for a boy because...

0:05:470:05:51

if you've invested any time in your voice,

0:05:510:05:53

if you really like singing, and I really loved singing as a treble,

0:05:530:05:56

I loved being in the cathedral and being part of the whole service

0:05:560:05:59

and the music and the general ritual and the worship

0:05:590:06:02

and all that sort of thing.

0:06:020:06:03

-BOYS:

-# Quam olim Abrahae

0:06:030:06:05

-GIRLS:

-# Quam olim Abrahae

0:06:050:06:07

# Quam promisisti

0:06:070:06:09

# Quam olim Abrahae promisisti

0:06:090:06:13

# Et semini

0:06:130:06:14

# Et semini

0:06:140:06:15

# Semini, semini

0:06:150:06:17

# Ejus. #

0:06:170:06:24

It's been a great thrill to stand in the cathedral

0:06:240:06:27

and listen to the fine organ and the wonderful singing of these boys.

0:06:270:06:31

And I hope people across the country,

0:06:310:06:33

when they're listening to Songs Of Praise today,

0:06:330:06:36

will really enjoy this very magnificent sound.

0:06:360:06:39

It's a unique sound.

0:06:390:06:41

It kind of reminds me a little bit of yesteryear,

0:06:410:06:45

some of those old-fashioned films where you hear boys singing

0:06:450:06:49

songs in chapels, in rugby school, and that sort of thing.

0:06:490:06:53

It's a very unique sound. I really hope people enjoy it.

0:06:530:06:56

We've worked hard.

0:06:560:06:57

And I've been extremely happy today to listen to the results.

0:06:570:07:01

I think singing, especially in the choir,

0:09:590:10:02

it's all about building your confidence.

0:10:020:10:04

It's a great way of getting to know people. It's amazing,

0:10:040:10:07

being part of a national group of people from all over Scotland.

0:10:070:10:10

I enjoyed singing so I gave it a shot and got involved with Christopher,

0:10:100:10:13

who is just from thereon in helped inspire me and motivate me

0:10:130:10:18

to do music. And went up through the ranks

0:10:180:10:20

of the National Boys Choir into the full choir

0:10:200:10:23

and now I'm hoping, thanks to Christopher,

0:10:230:10:25

to possibly pursue music as a professional career in the future.

0:10:250:10:28

When he sees the altar, his eyes are going to go, "Oh, goodness me."

0:10:280:10:31

He's by far the best conductor I've ever worked with, you know.

0:10:310:10:34

-He knows exactly what he wants.

-Is that charming?

0:10:340:10:37

If it's not, don't put it on the television.

0:10:370:10:39

He can pick out a wrong note in a room of 300.

0:10:390:10:42

It's absolutely... It's really, really amazing.

0:10:420:10:45

Now from the younger boys, John Newton's well loved hymn.

0:10:450:10:49

The ever popular Amazing Grace. Different every time you hear it.

0:13:160:13:20

The full choirs are now going to sing a gentle Scottish hymn

0:13:200:13:24

written by John Bell and Graham Maule,

0:13:240:13:27

set to the lovely lullaby tune, Dream Angus.

0:13:270:13:30

For the last 10 years, Paul Mealor has been teaching

0:16:360:16:39

music in the ancient Kings College campus of Aberdeen University.

0:16:390:16:43

Last year, 2 billion people heard his music when the Duke

0:16:450:16:49

and Duchess of Cambridge chose his Ubi Caritas for their wedding.

0:16:490:16:52

Well, welcome, everybody, to the composition forum this week...

0:17:050:17:08

As Professor of Composition in Aberdeen, Paul is nurturing

0:17:080:17:12

the next generation of composers and musicians.

0:17:120:17:16

Well, I tend to write primarily vocal and choral music,

0:17:180:17:23

so it's to tend to start with the words.

0:17:230:17:25

Once I have got the words sorted out, whether I am writing them myself,

0:17:250:17:28

or whether I am setting a particular poem or ancient text,

0:17:280:17:32

then I meditate upon those words, strolling along the sea,

0:17:320:17:35

or in the beautiful countryside around here.

0:17:350:17:38

Then I sit down to write the melody and the harmony.

0:17:400:17:44

And generally, that comes out of the words itself, so,

0:17:440:17:47

it takes quite a lot of meditation, and a lot of thought about them.

0:17:470:17:50

Once I have found out what the poet or the writer is trying to

0:17:500:17:54

get across, generally, for me,

0:17:540:17:56

the melody seems to magically come out of that meditation.

0:17:560:18:00

But of course it's not magic because you what you are

0:18:000:18:02

really doing is forging a link

0:18:020:18:04

in a long tradition of composition.

0:18:040:18:07

Well, that's right, I studied and ever since I was a choirboy

0:18:070:18:10

I have been singing the great music of the church.

0:18:100:18:13

And, for me, my own music comes quite naturally from that,

0:18:130:18:17

because I feel a connection to the great composers

0:18:170:18:19

of the first Tudor period, you know, people like Thomas Tallis

0:18:190:18:24

and Orlando Gibbons, right the way through to composers like John Rutter...

0:18:240:18:27

There is a history of these people writing music for practical use,

0:18:270:18:30

but also celebrating their faith,

0:18:300:18:33

and for me those things seem perfectly natural

0:18:330:18:36

and I feel part of that line.

0:18:360:18:38

What's it like for you when a composition becomes popular,

0:18:410:18:44

as it did with Military Wives?

0:18:440:18:47

Is it OK to be popular as a classical composer?

0:18:470:18:49

Well, some people think not,

0:18:530:18:56

it's a very good question.

0:18:560:18:58

Of course, I never wrote that piece in a sense for it to be popular,

0:18:580:19:01

it was written to give a group of women a voice.

0:19:010:19:04

MUSIC: "Wherever You Are" by Military Wives

0:19:040:19:06

And of course, they wrote the words for that, and I wanted to create

0:19:130:19:17

a piece of music that could be sung by a group of people

0:19:170:19:19

that had never sung before

0:19:190:19:21

and it was only after they sung it so beautifully

0:19:210:19:23

that it became popular,

0:19:230:19:24

so it was never intended to be popular,

0:19:240:19:27

it was an intention to be a tool to give a group of people a voice.

0:19:270:19:30

# Light up the darkness

0:19:300:19:32

# My prince of peace

0:19:320:19:34

# May the stars shine all around you

0:19:370:19:39

# May your courage never cease. #

0:19:390:19:42

As a composer, we want to touch people,

0:19:440:19:47

and give them something beautiful in their lives.

0:19:470:19:50

There are too many terrible things in the world,

0:19:500:19:53

and to be known as somebody who created something that has

0:19:530:19:55

brought at least, for a few moments,

0:19:550:19:57

some beauty into somebody's life, I think is a great thing.

0:19:570:20:00

And here's Paul's new song,

0:20:000:20:02

written especially for the National Youth

0:20:020:20:04

Boys Choir, and Songs of Praise.

0:20:040:20:06

# I am the gentle light

0:20:100:20:14

# The stars at night

0:20:140:20:17

# The morning bright

0:20:170:20:20

# I am the still small voice

0:20:240:20:27

# The living choice

0:20:270:20:31

# The hearts rejoice

0:20:310:20:35

# And if you follow me

0:20:350:20:40

# I'll be with you for all eternity

0:20:400:20:48

# I will hold onto you

0:20:480:20:52

# My love will set you free

0:20:520:20:57

# I am forever love

0:21:010:21:05

# Light from above

0:21:050:21:08

# A peaceful dove

0:21:080:21:12

# I am your loving friend

0:21:140:21:17

# Your heart I tend

0:21:170:21:18

# Until the end

0:21:200:21:23

# And if you follow me

0:21:240:21:28

# I'll be with you for all eternity

0:21:280:21:33

# I will hold onto you

0:21:360:21:40

# My love will set you free

0:21:400:21:46

# I am forever

0:21:500:21:54

# My love will set you free. #

0:21:540:21:59

I often walk along the beach in Aberdeen harbour,

0:22:240:22:27

and I quite often walk along here,

0:22:270:22:29

in the mornings, getting inspiration for pieces.

0:22:290:22:31

But my, kind of, inspiration with water goes back right the way to

0:22:310:22:36

when I was a child, when I was nine years old.

0:22:360:22:38

I fell into a river in Din Lligwy, which is in North Wales,

0:22:420:22:45

and I couldn't swim at the time, I still can't swim, and, I just felt as

0:22:450:22:48

I was falling under the water that, this was it,

0:22:480:22:51

that I was about to die.

0:22:510:22:54

An almost warmth came over me,

0:22:540:22:56

a great sense of peace which I had never experienced before and when

0:22:560:23:00

I came out of the water, I was helped out,

0:23:000:23:04

I sought out, what that was,

0:23:040:23:07

what is this great mystery, what is that great feeling that I had?

0:23:070:23:10

-Even at the age of nine?

-Yeah.

0:23:100:23:12

I knew that my life was finite at that point, and I wanted to

0:23:120:23:16

find out what this great power was that had comforted me.

0:23:160:23:20

And what happened?

0:23:200:23:21

Well, I went, I sought out the church, and I became a choirboy,

0:23:210:23:24

and I started singing, and I then found in that music of the composers

0:23:240:23:28

like Tallis and Gibbons and Tomkins,

0:23:280:23:31

I found something in those words.

0:23:310:23:33

How do you find having a faith in the 21st-century?

0:23:330:23:38

It can be difficult, and I remember when I suddenly

0:23:380:23:41

realised that the there was this extra force, and I knew it was God...

0:23:410:23:45

You knew it was God.

0:23:450:23:46

How did you know it was God?

0:23:460:23:48

I just knew, it's one of those things.

0:23:480:23:50

You can believe something, and you can know something.

0:23:500:23:52

I just, almost immediately from coming out of that water,

0:23:520:23:55

almost as if that water was a baptism for me,

0:23:550:23:57

I knew that this was the truth.

0:23:570:24:00

But it's not easy being a Christian.

0:24:000:24:02

It's not easy saying to somebody, "This is what I believe."

0:24:020:24:05

So I have tried to find a way of getting my beliefs

0:24:050:24:08

across without hitting people over the head with them.

0:24:080:24:10

And that experience at nine is still valid for you,

0:24:100:24:14

I mean, we outgrow quite a lot of our childhood experiences, don't we?

0:24:140:24:18

That's right, but I think there are some things, like love,

0:24:180:24:20

the first time you really understand what that is,

0:24:200:24:23

you never forget it.

0:24:230:24:25

And it is the same with this experience,

0:24:250:24:27

because it was so profound, because it was so important to me

0:24:270:24:30

I relive it all the time, and this is something that I try to

0:24:300:24:33

capture in my music,

0:24:330:24:35

I try to capture this sense of warmth,

0:24:350:24:37

this sense of peace.

0:24:370:24:39

Tell me about Ubi Caritas.

0:24:470:24:50

What struck me was the tremendous intimacy that you brought to

0:24:500:24:53

that piece, while at the same time giving it such universality.

0:24:530:24:57

That is really what it is to be a composer,

0:24:570:25:00

I suppose, of sacred music, is to try to find something that's

0:25:000:25:04

immediately personal, but also can touch everybody.

0:25:040:25:07

# Ubi Caritas et amor. #

0:25:070:25:15

In that piece I had those wonderful words,

0:25:200:25:22

written in the fourth century,

0:25:220:25:23

in Latin - Ubi Caritas et amor.

0:25:230:25:25

"Where there is charity and love, God is there."

0:25:250:25:27

In other words, God is the face of love.

0:25:270:25:30

You can't go wrong, when you've got words like that.

0:25:300:25:33

Once you understand them, and try to figure out a simple harmony,

0:25:330:25:36

a simple piece of music that will just enforce them,

0:25:360:25:40

it's a timeless process that's gone on

0:25:400:25:41

since before I was born, during my life, and will continue afterwards.

0:25:410:25:46

I have been lucky enough, God has given grace for me

0:25:460:25:49

to be able to be part of this song that's going on,

0:25:490:25:52

and has been going on, as we were in the chapel earlier.

0:25:520:25:55

People have been singing in there for hundreds of years.

0:25:550:25:59

Now, I have added my voice to that, others will come, afterwards

0:25:590:26:02

and add theirs,

0:26:020:26:04

and I just feel proud and humbled and privileged

0:26:040:26:06

to be part of that great song.

0:26:060:26:07

'Loving father,

0:29:580:30:00

'we thank you for the gift of music.

0:30:000:30:02

'For its power to move us, uplift us

0:30:020:30:04

'and fill our hearts with your love.

0:30:040:30:06

'We thank you for the joy of singing,

0:30:060:30:10

'the companionship, support

0:30:100:30:12

'and friendship that being in a choir gives us.

0:30:120:30:15

'And through the power of music,

0:30:150:30:16

'let us all join together in singing a song of unending praise.'

0:30:160:30:21

# O Sanctissima

0:30:210:30:26

# O Piissima

0:30:300:30:34

# O Dulcis Virgo Maria

0:30:370:30:42

# O Sanctissima

0:30:510:30:56

# O Piissima

0:30:580:31:02

# O Dulcis Virgo Maria. #

0:31:050:31:09

And so to our final hymn,

0:31:200:31:23

from The National Youth Boys Choirs of Scotland.

0:31:230:31:25

Next week, a special performance from the Military Wives,

0:33:220:33:25

as Pam introduces poetry and music for Advent,

0:33:250:33:28

with guests Sheila Hancock, and Sir Derek Jacobi,

0:33:280:33:33

and seasonal hymns from St Albans Church in Bristol.

0:33:330:33:36

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:33:510:33:54

Sally Magnusson meets Paul Mealor, who composed music for the 2011 royal wedding and the Military Wives choir, and introduces hymns and songs from the boys of the National Youth Choirs of Scotland gathered in Dunblane Cathedral.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS